Saturday, December 31, 2005

My new year's resolutions

Since a few other blogging friends have posted their resolutions for the year, I'd better do mine too. Not much a person on making or keeping resolutions, but it will make me think and set some goals.

* This year I plan to get the rest of this maddening pregnancy weight off my body. Hopefully by autumn I will have it all off, cause it seems like the breastfeeding is keeping the fat on and I plan to nurse until Aidan's at least a year old.

* I would like to get control of my sweet tooth (hence help with the weight loss). That can start NOW.

* Become disciplined in practicing my yoga in conjunction with my powerwalking exercise regimine.

* Do my artwork on a regular basis and get good at it!

* Get my hands and nails back into shape, though difficult with the extra cooking and cleaning I do. I can still try!

Those are the main things that I need to work on. I just need to print this list out and post it on my fridge so I can be reminded daily and continue to work on these goals.

Happy New Year everybody!

Our spending day at the mall

We were very good! The only thing not on sale was my two desperately needed nursing bras, but they were still under $25 each. Just like a grocery store, I went in with a list and did not have the intention to buy anything that was not on that list.

We got our memory foam mattress pad on sale, but it was still just over $100. I felt OK about spending that because our mattress was only $150 and most mattress sets are over $500. It's SOO comfortable! I didn't feel so achy and sore when I woke up after two nights sleeping on it. I also got my needed socks and the wedding gift for our friends in the UK. This was a very high month for our spending, but nothing we bought was frivolous or unneeded.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Baby in a basket

For those who couldn't see these pictures on Aidan's web gallery, here are the baby in a basket pics. His Teddy bear is wearing the little shirt Aidan wore in the hospital when he was born.

A happy boy!

I got published!

My letter to the editor in the Nation Newspaper in Bangkok was published yesterday! I've been in touch with the co-author of the book Bangkok Inside Out, Guy Sherett. I met him once a few years ago in Bangkok through a mutual friend, but never stayed in contact. I did remember him when my husband bought me that book and I recognized his name and picture. Anyway, this book has since been banned from sale in Thailand by the Ministry of Culture. I wrote to Guy my support for his endeavors to get his book back on the shelves and he then encouraged me to write to the editors of several newspapers in Thailand, so I did. And he just informed me this morning that my letter was published in one of them. Here's the link, scroll down about half way and below my letter is another letter of support. Here's the link to the original letter written about this issue. Below is the text of my letter if you don't wish to link.

What are the culture police so scared of, really?
Re: “An open letter to Culture Minister Uraiwan Thienthong on a provocative book”, Letters, December 19.
I’ve lived in Bangkok for four years and had the opportunity to meet Guy Sharett, co-author of the book “Bangkok Inside Out”. Sharett is an articulate, respectful person and his book speaks the truth about Bangkok, in all its funny, sad, beautiful and ugly ways. But none of the subjects were written with disrespect. My Thai husband was the person who actually bought this book for me and he really enjoyed it. I’m saddened that the Ministry of Culture is banning this book because I feel it truly enriches the Bangkok experience for tourists, expatriate workers, and the Thai people who get a foreigner’s perspective. Please encourage the Ministry of Culture to reverse its decision and allow the sale of “Bangkok Inside Out” in bookstores again.
Amy P.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Many pictures to share!

Golf has updated the photo album, most are pictures from Thanksgiving, the combo birthday party and Christmas. The last picture is so cute, with Aidan and a friend in the laundry basket. That one was taken a few days ago.

My yogic plans for the new year

I walked by the Alameda Yoga Station yesterday and picked up their new 2006 schedule and they did add the $5 community class. Every Monday from 12:15-1:15. I confirmed with Golf that he can watch Aidan for an hour and a half once a week while I do this. I can easily ride my bicycle there! But new classes don't begin til after January 3, which is a Tuesday, so that means I can't start at the studio until the second week. Til then, I'll do my videos. I did about half of one yesterday. First off it was all Aidan could handle. I had him in his walker right next to me while I worked out. Secondly, I was TIRED! I gotta start out slowly and hopefully by the time I go to the class, I'll be better.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Getting back to Yoga

My friend Melanie made a comment on my last post, saying I was the best investment to the health of the household, and she's right. My backache woke me up this morning at 5:45, even before the baby woke up! This is it, I must get back into my yoga practice, and this is the perfect week to do it because it's stormy and rainy and I can't go walking. There is a nearby yoga studio that I can ride my bike to. They say they have a community class, which is usually about $5 and it's offered once a week by the other yoga studios I've seen online. I didn't see a community class in the schedule for this one, but it's listed on another page they have so I'm going to give them a call. I cannot afford $15 a class. Who can?!?! So if I can go once a week and do other sessions with some DVD's I have, my aches should go away within a few weeks.

A yummy day

Yesterday just before going to the store, I noticed about a pound of mushrooms sitting in the vegetable bin and I knew we had to get them eaten quickly before they went bad. Whenever I have veggies on the verge of going bad, it's a soup day. So I concocted a really yummy soup off the top of my head that you might like with all the stuff laying around in your fridge and pantry.
Incidently, I never knew the fine merits of sea salt. Chefs and foodies say it makes a big difference in taste and I always thought salt is salt is salt, but I bought some a few weeks ago and I must say it does make the food taste better. Anyway, here's the recipe for my Emergency Mushroom Soup -- vegans and vegetarians can easily adjust the ingredients.

1 lb white or crimini mushrooms
5 dried shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup dry barley
1 peeled carrot
3 leeks
1 can cream of celery soup
2 tbsp butter
chicken broth
fresh parsley chopped

About an hour before preparing, place the shitake mushrooms in a cup of hot water to reconstitute. Then prepare the barley: rinse well and add to 3 cups of boiling salted water.

Cut the green tops off the leeks and rinse well. Slice thinly and drop them in a large pot on medium high heat with the butter. Let them get soft.

In the meantime, run the peeled carrot and mushrooms through the slicer of a food processor. Keep about six mushrooms to quarter for added chunkiness if you prefer. Slice shitakes and keep the water they were soaking in. Add the mushrooms and carrot to the leeks. Salt and pepper to taste (again the sea salt and fresh ground pepper is best.) Cook til the mushrooms get good and juicy.

Add the can of cream of celery soup and enough broth and water to the consistency you want (thin or thick soup). Taste to ensure it doesn't become weak. Add cooked barley. Cook for about 10 more minutes and add as much fresh parsely as you want.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The week's agenda

We decided to lay low until the shopping frenzy declines and life returns to normal before we head out into the vast wasteland of the shopping mall. Aidan's got his first portrait appointment at JCPenney's on Thursday and while we're there I'm doing some more shopping.

I have to get a wedding gift for my Thai friend A, who is marrying a Sri-Lankan British man and is in the UK with him now, enjoying the frigid, snowy weather. Her wedding date is January 14th and I already know what I want to get her but I can't say here in case she reads this, but I will say it'll be warm and cozy. :)

I have two pairs of socks left that I can wear with shoes. TWO. The rest are big wooly ones that I wear around the house instead of slippers. So I'm going sock shopping.

I have two nursing bras that I've interchanged since the day Aidan was born and they are getting WAY worn out and Mervyn's didn't have anything I liked, so I hope JCPenney has something. Afterall, I'm only halfway done with nursing!

My backache isn't going away, it returned after my stretches, so we're going to look for a memory foam mattress, about two inches, because my research came across reviews that said anything thicker doesn't do much good. I want something like a Tempurpedic mattress without the expense of one.

And just like everyone else, our expenses were up this month from birthday parties, Christmas dinner and other things, so January is belt tightening time.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Since today is the 25th I'm wishing all who celebrate a Merry Christmas! We're laying low this year, but last year I had a blast in a pub in Bangkok with my fellow ex-pat teachers, our Thai partners and Aied, our good friend and colleague. It was my first English style dinner. I was also four months pregnant with Aidan. You can see pictures here. Scroll down a bit for photos. Many of them are still working at my old school, so if you're reading, Merry Christmas to you!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All ready for Christmas!

Since we aren't doing much for Christmas this year, preparing for it was a breeze. We're having dinner with a friend at our apartment and I finished all my grocery shopping on Wednesday. I knew that every day after that would only get busier and I did NOT want to get caught up in huge crowds at the grocery store.

I plan to take Aidan to JC Penney on Thursay the 29th to have his first portrait taken. It's long overdue -- he's seven months old already!

Neighbors: Golf and I were tossing and turning as our noisy neighbors were talking loudly after midnight last night. We can hear everything through our thin walls and the fan we turn on to drown out little noise was not loud enough. I've befriended them and they are very nice people, but they are clueless to the noise they make and I couldn't take it any longer. I knocked on their door and asked them to please keep it down a little. They were very nice about it, I just hope they remember to keep it down in the future. Gotta keep that neighborly friendliness! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Getting 'that baby' to sleep

For the last two weeks we implemented a sleep strategy that worked at getting Aidan to put himself to sleep. After rocking and nursing didn't put him back to sleep in the middle of the night, we just left him in his crib to cry, going in every 5 minutes to comfort and pat him. This is not crying it out, since we go in to reassure him. Then last week we extended the time to every 10 minutes. He's been going to sleep on his own within 15 minutes now, and most nights he sleeps through. However, recently he'll wake up and need his bippy (our word for pacifier) to go back to sleep and now we've fallen into the trap of him needing it to fall asleep. He'll wake up two or three times a night needing to be plugged back in. This is also an unacceptable sleep habit, so we're going to take away the bippy for night time sleeping and he'll only get it during the day. Last night he cried for an hour, from 4-5 AM with us comforting him unsuccessfully every ten minutes. Finally at 5 I took him to bed with me and nursed him and we all got some more sleep. Five AM is the latest we'll try to put him back to sleep on his own. Later than that I might as well just get up with him. I hope by the end of the week he'll be able to sleep without his bippy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My aching back

For several weeks now -- maybe even MONTHS at this point, I've woken with an achy back and when I lay on my bed on my back, the lower part hurts too much to stay in that position. Never used to be like that. I had considered getting a memory foam mattress pad because my sister has a Tempurpedic mattress and when we stayed at her place for Thanksgiving, we slept on her bed and it was VERY comfortable.

Anyway, yesterday I tried spending a few minutes doing some yoga stretches to stretch out my back. Just the simple child's pose made me feel a crack or two in my spine. Then I crossed my legs in a sitting position and bent over, elbows on the floor. All this while Aidan was playing around. I felt SO much better. Well, I tried it out this morning and laid on my back. No pain! None at all! I'll do this every day to keep those kinks out of the ole backbone! And best of all, it costed me NO money. HOORAY!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Season Finale

I'm hooked on Nip/Tuck, thanks to my friend Michelle in Bangkok, who bought the first season on DVD and lent it to Golf and me. Now every Tuesday night I try desperately to stay up from 10 - 11 PM to see it. Tonight the season finale is on and it's a two hour special. SOMEHOW I must stay awake til 12 midnight and hope to God the baby will stay asleep tonight. I'm having coffee tonight about 8:30 and that should do the trick. :)

The sweetest commercial

I'm not a person who cares for advertising, but a commercial came on TV yesterday that brought tears to my mommy eyes it was so precious. I just looked online and you can see it here. Get your tissues out! I think before mommyhood I would have thought it really sweet, but now I get all emotional about it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Raining n pouring

We couldn't get out to that Dunsmuir house on Sunday because it was raining as hard as it does in Bangkok, only difference was that it was much colder. Today was the first day in three days I could go out for a walk with the baby. Nothing like fresh air!
Hmmm... hate to be such a bore, but there isn't much to write about as of late.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday happenings

Today Golf, Aidan, and I are going with my friend Carolyn to an Oakland estate called Dunsmuir that has an annual Christmas tour. Carolyn suggested it, as I've never heard of this place before. It looks beautiful and something nice to do. However, it's POURING rain this morning and I don't know if it will still happen for us. I'll give an update later.

Aidan had his first fever two days ago. He felt SOOO hot, but he was still active and lively, just not as much as he usually is. Yesterday he was just fine, so I hope he's inherited his mother's good health and ability to recover quickly from illness. Golf and I are never sick (knock wood) and so I hope our healthy genes have passed on to our son.

All right, I'm off to have some of my home made banana nut bread for breakfast and I need more COFFEE! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Considering more options

I really want to live in a house. I want a workspace for my upcoming art business (a garage in other words). Golf needs a room where he can have his office space and close the door to shut out any disturbances while he works. It would be lovely to have a yard for Aidan to play in. Our own laundry room -- need I say more? There are very few house rentals in the Bay Area. When a person pays from $700K to one million dollars, yes, one million dollars, for a three bedroom house, renting it for less than $2,000 a month is not possible. So I asked my husband to consider moving back to Sacramento in about a year and rent a house for the about the same price we are renting this apartment. For a little more money per month, we can get an extra bedroom, a back yard, laundry facilities and a garage. And no noisy neighbors behind your bedroom wall!!!

So the dream was to be able to buy a house, but in our time frame we'll at least get to LIVE in a house, if only a rental. But it will have to be in Sacramento. While I absolutely love living in the Bay Area, my DH and I have to make choices, and we have to decide what is really important. So far our housing choices are becoming more important, now that we have a baby. We're going to see how often Golf has to go to work on site. So far in our almost four months here, he has had to go on site for work only two days. I think getting a hotel for those days if we were in Sac would be well worth it. We're giving it another year in this apartment to scope out how his business develops. And I might be saying hello to Sac once again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On the fast track to 40 now

I turned 36 years old yesterday. My god, I'm now sliding down the hill toward 40. But at least my dreams have been fulfilled: I got to do some travelling to exotic countries doing brave things, I got to live abroad for a number of years, I met the man of my dreams, got married and now I'm a mommy to a beautiful little boy. I can relax now and enjoy my life. The anxiety that used to keep me awake and turn my stomach at nights no longer haunt me. Fortunately it's not just me who gets older! :)

We really didn't do much at all yesterday. Golf's been extremely busy with a work project that's due in a few days, so I just did housework and took care of the baby. I decided to forego the trip to the art store until Golf is done with his work so I can go alone and shop leisurely. I'm nervous about beginning my business, as all things that may profit, there is risk involved. But I must try and one of the major factors of its success is simply getting out there at craft fairs, actively doing ebay, keeping a beautiful website that takes payment, and going out to owner operated boutiques and stores. So I'll go to the art store by Monday next week and spend as much time as I want browsing around and getting what I need to get started! It's always hardest for me to START, but once I get going, it all becomes very easy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Off to the art store today!

If all goes as planned, I would really like to get to the art supply store today to get all the paper I need and some more paints and brushes and paper preparation materials. I'm so excited! I'll be on target for my goal of being up and running by the end of December.

Now to practice and get good at my collage making endeavor, I need time. Lots of it, and with a baby, husband and household to care for, I don't get much. I need to make practice pieces and then I need to create enough to get some quality stock to sell. My goal is to have that stock, or be nearly there, by Aidan's first birthday in May. By June, I need a website up.

Writing down my goals for my business has certainly helped big time. I know it's a key strategy for any flegling business. I'm so grateful I have this opportunity to make my dream a reality.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One HUNGRY baby!

Golf took this photo just after I pureed an entire Kabocha squash for Aidan and hadn't put them in the ice cube trays yet. Had to give Aidan a little taste and he LOVED it! That bowl fit into two ice cube trays and should last a couple weeks, at least. The boy will likely eat 3 to 4 cubes (equal to one tablespoon) each time. Today I bought fresh spinach at the farmer's market, washed it, steamed it and pureed it. It's SOO dark green! I hope he likes it, but he may not be able to eat it til next month. Fortunately it keeps for two months. I pride myself on making my own baby food.

Pic from 3 years ago

The first school I worked for in Thailand put up a new website and I saw they used a picture of me. Cool! This is my second grade class and my co-teacher is Khun Aow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Thai Father's Day

Today is a national holiday in Thailand for two reasons. Number one, it's His Majesty the King's birthday and he's 78 now, if I'm not mistaken. He's the longest reigning monarch in history! And to honor his birthday, the Thai people have made the day Father's Day for all dads in the country. (Mother's Day is the Queen's Birthday) My former school has some photos and a touching video on their website. Just click on the Father's Day link on the right. The camera icon shows the photos and the video icon the video. My good friend and former colleague, Michelle, an eighth grade teacher, made an excellent post about the school event on her blog along with some pictures.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A fun little party!

Yesterday I had a great party! It was so much fun. In the afternoon, Melanie and Daryll arrived in the afternoon and we snacked on hors d'oeuvres: mini quiches and mushroom pastries, veggies with dressing and grapes. Mellie brought a baked kabocha squash with pumpkin seasoning and I sliced it into small slices that made eating easy. They also brought a lovely pasta dish with fresh parmasan cheese and a wonderful tasting white wine they got in Napa. Golf made a prawn Thai style stir-fry that had garlic, chili and green beans served up with steamed jasmine rice. Carolyn and her good friend Jamie arrived about 3:00 and she brought a delicious chicken pot pie. It wasn't quite hot so I turned on the oven to reheat it. But we decided it was fine as is and chowed down.

After the food was gone and I got the kitchen cleaned and organized again (thanks to Daryll's help!) it was time for birthday cake! I bought an ice cream cake and just had "Happy Birthday" written on it since three people were celebrating (Golf, Carolyn and me) and I opened the gift that Mel brought. She gave me a set of shampoo, conditioner and hair treatment from Sephora. She also got me a Japanese cherry blossom gift set which has perfume, bath oil with sake, and flower petal face mask. Man, my Mellie knows very cool girlie girl gifties! I'm gonna take a nice bath and let Golf care for the baby for a little while this morning!!!

Golf got a cool Star Wars shirt and a Best Buy gift certificate. He never got birthdays when he was growing up and he said that this year was his best birthday of his life. :) :) :) Carolyn got a nice little travel set with shampoos, body wash and other yummy things for the body. Mel and Daryll were SOO generous Thank You again!! :)

Then we finished our cake and took a walk down to City Hall for the tree lighting ceremony. There was a tap dance troupe with Christmas tree costumes and it was a lot of fun to watch. A brass band played, and there as also a stage with music afterward. Then Santa Claus arrived, and in Bay Area style, he arrived in a eco-car sort of golf cart looking thing. I don't know what else to call it, but it was cool looking. The countdown came and the tree was lit. Before then Aidan fell fast asleep and missed the whole thing. He sure loved people watching before then, though.

When we got home, though, I discovered I left the oven on for the pot pie! OOPS! When our oven reaches it's set temp, the light goes off, so when we left, I didn't think the oven or stove was turned on because of no lights. I only heard it tick here and there when we got back and that's how I made that discovery. At least there was nothing in it, but it was still a waste of enerty. But all in all, it was a GREAT day.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Baby changes

We're currently weaning Aidan off his swaddle. I never liked doing it past two months and recently we've also been concerned about him getting cold. In his swaddle we could use a blanket, but now he pulls his blanket over his face since his arms are free. So yesterday my mom bought him a fleece sleep sack and underneath he wears his thermal underwear. His little hands still get cold, since the sleep sack just has long sleeves.

Aidan's also been waking up in the middle of the night and we've been trying to get him to fall alseep again without rocking or nursing. Night before last it took us two hours -- I did nurse him and he did not fall asleep, so we put him back to bed and it was back and forth for an hour and a half. Last night he woke up at 4 AM and we thought it wasn't worth it to spend two hours getting him to sleep again by 6 AM. So I took him to bed with us to nurse and nap. I got some more sleep. I think we'll try to put him back to sleep if he gets up before 3:30 AM.

We cannot let him cry it out as we are against that method. So we've been giving him a bippy (pacifier) and patting his butt, then leaving the room. If he whimpers we leave him, but once the crying starts we come in and comfort him without picking him up. Putting himself back to sleep when he wakes up during the night has got to be a huge major obstacle for parents!

Got a book at the library about making your own super baby food. I'm already doing it, but any additional info I can get my hands on is good.

Gotta go now! Have an appointment at the DMV to get my name and address changed. Hope they let me keep my old picture!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy Birthday Honey!

Today's my dear sweet husband's 38th birthday!! We'll be laying low again this year, and you can read about our wild time last year in Bangkok. LOL! It's worked out really well being married to another Saggetarius! Saturday I'm hosting a combo birthday for Golf (30th) Carolyn (Dec. 5th) and me (12th). We'll have some good food pot-luck style, and an ice cream birthday cake and in the early evening we will walk down to City Hall a few blocks away and see the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Should be fun! I've never been to such an event.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Got the table

How I do love Craigslist! Saw a card table for sale on Sunday for only $20 and last night we met the seller at Trader Joe's at a nearby shopping center and made the transaction. I'm on my way to starting my business! I've been brainstorming company names and once I make some inventory, I'll have a webpage desinged. Career coaches always say to do what you love and the money will follow. On the other hand, the term "Starving Artist" is for a reason. I like to look at what I do as half art, half craft, and appealing to most people, so I think it's more a matter of good marketing and getting my pieces out there. Baby steps, baby steps -- get everything in place and soon I can begin to actually produce! I've got so many ideas, I'd better get to the sketchbook!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

So much to read, so little time

I've got some books lying around the apartment waiting for my attention. Something tells me not to spend as much time here and get to reading! Here's what's tugging at my sleeve, crying READ ME!

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (on page 100-something)
Baby Signs
The Millionaire Mind
The Complete Crafter's Guide to Collage
Creative Collage Techniques

The Collage Techniques is a library book, so tomorrow I've got to go and photocopy the important parts before returning it. I have to strategize my reading: Start Baby signs in a few more months, peek at my collage books whenever I can so I will know what to do once I get all my materials, and Harry Potter at night before sleeping. Millionaire Mind will have to wait til Harry Potter's done. Whoever thought that books could take on the characteristics of triage! But when I've got a demanding infant, any spare time is prioritized.

FINALLY getting serious about weight loss

Thanksgiving was GREAT and I didn't eat so much that I hurt myself, as I've done yearly in the past. But my mother said something very simple that hit home with me when I complained again about the fact that I have not lost one pound of pregnancy weight and Aidan's already six months old. She simply said I need to quit eating so damn much. Well, OK. I'd been so concerned about my milk supply and not sure how much was OK to eat, but apparently it didn't sink in that if I wasn't losing weight it was because I was eating more than necessary.

So now I'm serious and I'm cutting down on my amounts. I'm keeping a food diary so that I'm accounting for everything that goes into my pie hole. I draw 8 circles for glasses of water and throughout the day I X each circle to make sure I get enough. I continue with my power walks.

My goal is five pounds per month, and that should put me at my pre preggo weight by the time Aidan's a year old. Of course more weight is always good, provided it isn't too drastic and won't hurt my milk supply. So here I am declaring my intentions in public and now I have to be held accountable for my actions. I hope to report biweekly on my progress.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well I have all the veggies and cornbread prepped and later this morning I have to bake the apple pie, then pack a BUNCH of things, bathe the baby and then we're off to Sacramento for the holiday. It's going to be great fun!

I've got so much to be thankful this year.
I'm very, very thankful for my husband, for without him, my life would not be what it is today. He gave me my son and so much fulfillment and happiness.
I'm thankful for my baby and his health. I cling to him with gratefulness and relief when I see unfortunate tragic stories of others.
I'm thankful for our smooth transition from Thailand to the United States and our luck in finding a nice place to live.
I'm thankful for the work my husband gets so he can enable me to stay at home and take care of Aidan.
I'm thankful for our health insurance situation that came about recently. We will save hundreds of dollars every month as a result.
I'm thankful the rest of my family is healthy and happy.
I'm thankful that my sister-in-law in Bangkok has just gone through surgery for breast cancer and has pulled through OK. I hope and pray she will continue her road to recovery and that the cancer has been stopped.
I'm thankful for all the help my parents, sisters and friends have given my family. I'm very grateful.

I could go on and on, because I'm really grateful for so many things. But I'll stop there because those are the most important for me right now.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

HP Review and Baking Day

Let me start this post by saying that Harry Potter was fabulous! You can tell the need for a PG13 rating when you see this film and it's amazing how fast these kids have grown up. Ron Weasley has got big broad shoulders now! In my imagination, I thought of Voldemort as scarier looking, but if they made him scarier in this film, a PG13 rating would not have been possible. I'd say the best scenes were the Quiddich World Cup (They captured the excitement of the event on a grand scale) and of the Dragon event for the Tri Wizard Tournament. This shouldn't give anything away if you've read the books already. On a sidenote, the previews for children's movies all look like crap. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but today's humor geared toward kids sucks!

So today and tomorrow are Baking Days. I'm making southern cornbread dressing and apple pie and also some rasin walnut scones to take to my sister's house. She's hosting it this year and there's supposed to be 12 or 13 people there! WOW! It will be the first time Aidan will meet his uncle Bill, great-aunt Annie and my sister's husband's mom, dad and sister. Golf has yet to meet his brother in law or aunt in law too. It'll be very interesting and fun. I'm going to bring my new trivia DVD game: Name That Tune 80s edition. It's supposed to be for my birthday next month, but seeing how many of us will all be together, then I want to take advantage of that situation.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Movie time!

Golf and I are very excited to get to go see Harry Potter this afternoon! My mom and dad are coming over to babysit and they'll be here in about an hour and a half. I've already pumped milk, but a disappointing three ounces. I haven't pumped since living in Bangkok, so I think my body's not used to it anymore. Aidan also has some pureed squash I cooked for him yesterday and his rice cereal to keep his tummy full while mommy and daddy are away ENJOYING ourselves. :)

We need a little break. Do babies go through a growth spurt at 6 months? Aidan was up last night and the night before at precisely 11:30 and it took us a good two hours to get him back to bed. I nursed him til he fell asleep and tried putting him back in his crib, to where he promply awoke and made sqeaky door sounds. Then Golf tried for 45 minutes and finally got him down. He woke us this morning at 5:15. But after nursing him he fell back asleep and we all stayed cozy in bed til almost 7:30. Thanks for that little bit of mercy!

Incidently, Golf has updated the photo album with the latest and the greatest. :)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

My goals

It's been a relatively quiet week, hence my quiet blog. I've been doing more research, thinking and strategizing my goals for starting my own artisan business. I bought a book on collage, and I check Craigslist nearly every day for a small table, some sort of stacking tray storage space for my paper collection and I just ordered a catalog from an art supply company. I'm going to have to invest some money to start up with, and that's no problem. I'd like to get set up by the end of January. That's my goal.

This is not the best handicraft to get involved with living in an apartment. I'm going to have to set up in my bedroom and hope and pray that it doesn't get messy enough to ruin the carpet or the walls. I can't let this hold me back from trying, though. I may even get a small table and have Aidan join me when he's a toddler.

The biggest challenge, as any parent knows, is getting enough time to do this. I can only squeeze in small snippets of time between caring for the baby and getting housework done or cooking. Housewifely duties makes for a full plate already. I may do much of my work during the night after Aidan goes to bed, however, the lack of natural light is the biggest drawback. If I can't do much work until Aidan gets older, then getting into my artwork will have to wait until then. I can just use these first years to practice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sharing some pictures

This isthe front of the Fremont Thai temple we went to for the Loy Krathong celebration last Sunday. It's much better than the one in Berkeley -- bigger with more space, more trees and more of a temple feel to it. Many families were there with their kids and I met another couple just like us; farang mother, Thai husband and 1 1/2 year old son who was adorable! I hope I see them again, as it would be fun to get to know her and her family.

The celebration included a dance number by costumed girls from each region of Thailand: The north, northeast (Issan), central Thailand, and the south.

This is what the inside of the Fremont temple looks like. I've always LOVED the murals.

After enjoying some lunch, Golf got this picture of Aidan that's so sweet. He was so excited the whole time, kicking his legs and squealing. :)

A photo of some of the floating krathongs in the fountain. We didn't float one this year, but we will next year. The biodegradeable ones like the kind I had a few years ago (pictured below) are the best.

Aidan having a GREAT time swinging with his Daddy. He laughed and laughed. He's going to love playgrounds!

I found on Craigslist a used walker for only $15 and Mom and I picked it up yesterday. It rotates, so that Aidan can still actually walk around and the seat turns around too. He LOVED it and was happy to spend a lot of time in it. He could never tell it was not brand-spanking new and frankly I was glad it didn't have the battery operated beeps and other electronic sounds. I prefer bells and squeaks made by the baby, not a battery.

Teaching Aidan to sign

My mother talked Golf and I into teaching Aidan how to sign. It didn't take much persuading, because after reading about it a little bit and asking for other internet parents for their input, we discovered how beneficial this form of communication is. Mom bought us the Baby Signs book and here are the benefits in brief, as written on page 18:

Our research studies, founded by the National Institues of Health, have revealed numerous benefits for families and for babies. Using Baby Signs:

* Reduces tears, tantrums and frustration
* Allows your baby to express needs and share his or her world with you
* Enriches interactions with your baby and strengthens the parent-child bond
* Reveals how to smart your baby truly is and gives you a window into your baby's mind
* Helps your baby develop language skills and speak sooner
* Builds a positive foundation for your baby's future emotional development by helping her express her feelings in a constructive way
* Jump-starts your baby's intellectual development, resulting in a higher IQ in elementary school
* Boosts your baby's self-esteem and self-confidence

We will likely start Aidan in a few months, when he's closer to nine months old, but it all depends on what the books recommends too. I've only read the first 20 pages or so, so I don't really know much as of yet. I'm very excited about starting Aidan on this learning endeavor!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Loy Krathong celebrations

This coming Wednesday, November 16 is the Thai celebration of Loy Krathong. Since most devotees can only make a celebration on a weekend, the Fremont Thai temple is holding a ceremony on Sunday, so we're going to go and check it out. Last year I went to a party by the river in Bangkok. It will be really neat to see how Thais in America celebrate vs. in Thailand. Report coming tomorrow!

This photo was taken in 2003 Loy Krathong, a few months before I met my husband and the year before the post I linked in my above entry. My Thai friend, A and I went north to Ayuthaya where we purchased the materials to make our krathongs. At midnight we floated our cares away with our krathongs down the river. Each krathong is made from banana leaves, flowers, incense sticks, a candle and the floating bit is the cross-section of a banana tree stump.

Can hardly wait to get my pre-preggo body back, just like that!

Friday, November 11, 2005

My sweet baby

Aidan is at an adorable stage. Just yesterday he started what seemed like the beginnings of separation anxiety. Golf was holding him and I went into the kitchen to wash dishes and he got upset when I went beyond his eyesight. He did it again today. When Golf holds him, he just stares at me with his huge, dark sparkling eyes and looks SOOOO cute. I fall in love with him more every day. Golf says when I hold him, he stares at him the same way. He's getting so strong and can roll across the room and is well on his way to crawling.

homemade foccocia!

Yesterday I'm began the process of making Skillet Rosemary Foccacia. Check out the recipe here! It could be a very delicious vegan bread, if one uses sugar instead of honey. I used honey. I'm about to pop it into the oven!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm an anime character -- I like it!

You have a dreamy soul. Dreams always sweep you off
your feet, and your almost permanently in a
fantasy world, dreaming up loads of fictional
scenarios. You tend to have an almost blank
stare, and you are a very shy person. You may
need to start paying a bit more attention,
because if you continue to dream and think so
much, you could get into trouble.

Element: Air
Colour/s: White, pastels
Animal/Mythical being: Butterfly, fairy or even a

What type of soul do you posess? (Anime pictures and fairly lengthy results)
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I'm now Mrs. P!

We went to the Social Security office today to change my married name and get the baby his SSN. The wait was hardly anything, a pleasing surprise, and Aidan was a good boy. Processing our request went smoothly and now we just have to wait for a couple weeks til both cards come in the mail. I've gone from Ms. S with seven letters to Mrs. P with sixteen letters and five syllables! WOOO HOO! "Just call me Mrs. P!"

Voting and getting things done

Yesterday was the California special election and I did my civic duty. And when I woke up this morning and turned on the news, it looks like the majority of voters in California felt as I did and defeated all of Ah-nold's propositions. I was a little surprised at the outcome, but it sure makes a statement.

I found a card table on Craigslist yesterday for only $10. I need a small table to start my collage work, but don't want to pay $35 to $40 for a new one. This lady was selling one and she lives in San Leandro, only six miles away. However she called last night at 6:45 PM and the only time she could be home to make the transaction is after 6 PM, not a good time with having a baby. AND with the rush hour, it would take me a good 45 minutes just to get there. Bummer. I will just have to keep looking. I also need a flat file cabinet to store all my papers, so I'm looking for a good deal on the internet for that. One small step at a time.

In about an hour and a half, Golf, Aidan and I are leaving for the social security office to 1. Get Aidan's SS card and 2. to change to my husband's last name. I couldn't change my name while living in Thailand because of my passport and thought it would just be easier to wait til we get here. Then sometime next week, I need to go to the DMV to do the same thing. I hope I can keep my old picture. I don't want my fat self on it. And can I give my pre-pregnancy weight and just tell them I'll be at that weight within the year???? I shutter to think I'd have to give my current poundage.

Let us hope for no long lines at the Social Security office!!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Monday Madness

Time again for Monday Madness

1. Sometimes I wish I could just turn invisible -- what a lucrative career THAT could be!
2. If I could take a long weekend to New York City, I'd be very happy. (Anywhere further would be just a quick recovery from jet lag before heading back home, assuming it's 3 or 4 days.)
3. The world would be a better place if more people would just be more polite to each other -- I see far too many people being rude to one another.
4. One of my greatest qualities is optimism.
5. The one thing about me that I need to work on is procrastination.
6. Happiness is a choice you make (if you're not clinically depressed, of course!) that and good, quality chocolate.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A visit to the Hoopla House

Yesterday Golf, Aidan and I went to my best friend's house, which she and her hubby named the Hoopla House. Do any of you readers name your homes? I lived there with Mel n Daryll for about 8 months or so before I decided to move back to Thailand. It was great seeing the changes they have made, and how many things have stayed the same. Aidan was a good boy and even took about an hour nap, allowing Golf and I some pure adult time. I helped Mellie pick out a colorful, bright sari from her closet to wear to the ashram for the Diwali festival that night, and Golf hung out with Darryl and both talked about emigrating to the US (Daryll is from England). It was a warm, sunny Saturday and I hope we get to see more of them.

Later on this morning we're meeting up with my other friend at the Oakland farmer's market at Jack London Square. The days have still been warm and sunny, perfect weather for meandering outdoors and seeing some boats go by.

We should be back in time for lunch and have a mellow rest of the day. I might take a power walk with Aidan later this afternoon. Aidan's been better about his stroller so I've been exercising more vigorously to try and get rid of some of this fat. It feels great, although I've gotten a little out of shape from the months of not being able to get a good workout. I should be back on track in a few more months of this regular routine.

OK, so then tomorrow my parents come for the day, then on Tuesday my sister's coming out for a visit and I also have to go vote (California special election). That means that my trip to the Social Security office will have to be on Wednesday. My week is suddenly busy and also Golf's got a huge project coming in. That's it for now! :)

Really pleased with it

My home made yogurt rocks!!!! Yesterday I tried using a tablespoon of yogurt as my starter instead of this expensive freeze dried starter that I've bought in the past at the natural foods store. Today my yogurt is better than any of the other batches I've ever made. Hooray! It's great when the less expensive option is actually better. I'm enjoying it with my homemade apple and pear whole wheat scone.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Setting goals and making plans

It's so easy, especially when I stay at home all day taking care of Aidan, to not set goals and get things accomplished. So far we have lived here two months and I haven't changed to my married name, nor gotten Aidan his Social Security number. Since both require a trip to the S.S. office, I will plan to do this next week. Monday. If I just say next week, then the whole week will go by and suddenly Friday will be here (hmmm, like TODAY!) and then the whole cycle starts again. Then I need to go to the DMV and then my bank. Gosh, getting a name change is quite a pain and much has to be done! I think that's why I keep putting it off.

Next, I need to set goals and just do it for my collage dream. I need to acquire a cheap card table to work on. I need to visit a thrift store and get an old sheet set to spread on the carpet. I need a clamp-on light. I need to get some adhesive and brushes. I need to practice with cardboard (before moving on to canvas). If I just look at one step at a time and say I'm going to do ONE thing on a specific day, then suddenly at the end of a month, much can be accomplished.

I've never been an ambitious person, but I can get out and do something. My living abroad is an attest to that. I just need to put my mind to it and get going! Once the inertia is started, the effort is minimal, and the rewards are huge!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I have two best girlfriends. One friend, M, has been in my life since 1989, so that's (getting out the calculator) 16 years! WOW! We're making plans to have Aidan and I, hopefully Golf too (providing he doesn't have any work projects), come out to her home, where I lived with her and her husband for a nine month period before returning to Thailand back in 2002. I've only seen her twice since moving back home but at least we chat on the phone.

My other friend, C, has been my friend for about 11 years. Right now she lives not far -- in Oakland. But she's tired of her studio apartment and neighborhood and is looking in Alameda too! It's so exciting to know that she will be even closer. She came over for dinner last night, something we like to try and do about once a week. If she ends up living nearby, then we can even powerwalk together on the weekends.

Now I have a new friend, D! I met her a few weeks ago, actually. She's a next door neighbor with a baby boy who is a month and a half younger than Aidan. Yesterday we walked to the farmer's market, a weekly thing, and we've taken walks around the neighborhood and had an iced tea and snack at a local deli once. She's so nice and what's also great is that our talk about babies is only about 25% of our conversation. But if one of us has to back out of plans because of a grumpy or napping boy, then we totally understand. She was going to be moving to Las Vegas in the near future, but that didn't pan out, so we're both happy she's going to be next door for awhile more.

I'm so lucky to have such great girlfriends!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Visit to temple and art center

Happy Halloween everybody! Not doing anything this year since Aidan is still too small for any celebrations.

So yesterday Golf and I went to the Thai Temple in Berkeley. They offer food there every Sunday for a pretty cheap price, but what I didn't expect was how popular it was. It was CROWDED! And unfortunately, the vibe was more like that of a crowded food court in a Thai mall than at a temple. People seemed to forget they were in a temple and some didn't dress respectfully and I was disappointed in the overall vibe of the place. Golf said that the bigger Fremont temple is quieter and has more of a temple feel to it, so we'll go there next time. Below are pictures of the temple.

Afterward, we went to a nearby flea market where I picked up a Griswold cast iron skillet #6, shown here for $29, I got for $8. My mother told me about this name brand and I'm happy I found one for such a good deal. Today is the day for seasoning it in the oven and I'll use it to bake the corn bread for the southern style dressing used to stuff the turkey for Thanksgiving.

Later yesterday afternoon, I went to this nearby Frank Bette Center for the Arts, just down the street. I wanted to see if they offered art classes and workshops and boy do they ever! The lady who runs the place and her volunteer friend were especially kind and the art is beautiful. They have a weekly drawing class, but for members it costs $12 per class and $15 for non-members. Their workshops look like fun too, but it's also expensive. It's so depressing because I certainly cannot afford any of that. I would also like to volunteer there, especially if that might get me a discount in their classes, but unless my mom comes, I can't spare much time with a small baby. We'll see what I can work out because I would love to be a part of the art community here.

This is the front of the Berkeley temple.

Long lines and big crowds await the weekly Thai food feedings behind the temple.

Eating Thai food with an interested baby looking on. :)

The Buddha image in the main room of the temple. They did a great job making this temple look like the ones in Thailand. Same sort of paintings, lighting and carpeting.

The monk who stays here and gave Aidan blessings.

Receiving holy water sprinkles with blessings for Aidan here in the USA.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Oh god, the time change!

I don't like switching an hour back. In spring it's better going forward, but the fall back is awful. Even before having a baby with a strict bedtime and routine! Now I have to think of the logistics of keeping Aidan up for another hour when he's already grumpy and very much ready for his bedtime between 7 or 7:30 and nursed to sleep ususally before 8 PM. Now his internal clock is set to go to bed at those times, not one hour later. I guess it will be awkward for about a week or so, then he'll get used to it, afterall, he got used to a 15 hour time difference when we moved here!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Parents here for the weekend

My parents are here for the weekend, and my mother will be here with us until Monday, so having the extra hands for entertaining the baby are very helpful. I really enjoy their company and they love their grandson so much. I never had a close relationship with the only grandparent I ever had: My grandfather (mother's dad), and both of Golf's parents are deceased, so my parents are all Aidan has. And I'm so thankful for their enthusiastic involvement.

This weekend we're going back to the baby consignment store to shop for a winter coat and some thicker pants and many even some shoes -- or thicker socks.

Sunday is the day Golf would like to take us to the Thai temple that is in Berkeley. I've never been to any Thai temples in the States, only a few Hindu temples and ashrams, so it will be interesting to see how different or the same they are to the ones in Thailand. Baby needs some blessings now that we're here in the States. :)

Incidently, I have a new friend who has a baby boy only a month and a half younger than Aidan. Her husband also gets the same sorts of worse case scenarios played out in his head too, with his son. So I'm glad I'm not alone because the lack of comments in my previous post kind of makes me feel like I'm a loner in this department.

So my new friend is a woman seven years my senior who is a neighbor and noticed Golf and I one day taking Aidan out. I'm very glad she said hello. Maybe it's a California thing, but people are not very open and friendly here. The most friendly people are those who don't have kids with them. Fellow mothers of babies don't seem inviting, so I'm grateful for my new friend Donna. She and her husband were going to move to Las Vegas by December and I was bummed about Aidan and her son Jake not growing up together being good friends. Then I found out yesterday they are staying so now I can be happy that our sons will still get to play together when they get older. They already look at each other with keen interest. It's so cool!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Various thoughts and updates

What would you call an impulse buy of about $8 on how to manage your money and be a better investor??? Seems that would cancel each other out! LOL! Yesterday Golf and I walked by a Waldenbooks on the way to get some things from Walgreen's (on a LIST) and I saw The Millionaire Mind on clearance. I've read the Millionaire Next Door and it was a brilliant book, so I was naturally interested in this one. I have to finish Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince first, though and that's a big book! And now for something completely different...

Disturbing thoughts have haunted me my whole life. I tend to play out scenarios in my head at their absolute worst and I see it in detail. If my husband is late I envision him getting into an accident or being the victim of an assault. When camping, I imagined the tent I was in being mauled by a bear. (Not condusive to falling asleep!) Now that I have a precious baby, I have thoughts about him succombing to SIDS and holding his limp, lifeless body in my arms while I'm wailing in agonizing grief. In bed with my husband in the middle of the night I frantically check our bed covers in case I nursed Aidan to sleep and I forgot about him and smothered him with blankets. I'm always about 60% still in a sleep state when I do this. It's awful to have these thoughts and fears. Incidently, anytime I do nurse Aidan in bed in the middle of the night and we end up falling asleep, I always sleep very lightly. I keep blankets away from his face and am on constant vigilance. Are these fierce protective feelings and fears normal for parents to have for their little cubs? I know parents worry, but having these disasterous scenarios in my head is tortuous.

And speaking of our little bear cub, we've got some new photos to share. :) Included are pictures of a cute little rocking horse my mom got for Aidan, and also the promised pictures from our trip to the river delta where my parents are staying with their RV.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Finally getting the rest of it

Today my parents are coming out for a visit on this rainy day, our first rainy day since moving here. We're making one last stop to Ikea to get the last of what we need to complete our apartment. The main thing we need is our entertainment center. We need a corner unit, but if we don't find something there we like, I'm going to oder this one at Very basic, but in an apartment that's quickly becoming filled, we can't get anything huge (unlike our SOFA!)

At Ikea (I'm really not a sales person for them, they just have inexpensive, nice looking things) we're also going to get a full length mirror to put in our bedroom or the hallway, two large cannisters for rice and flour, CD racks to go on the wall and a peg rack for jackets that will be over the shoe rack in the entry.

I'm making a lovely 16 bean soup for me and my parents when they arrive. Unfortunately, Golf doesn't like beans so he gets to eat the leftover wild rice and bulger with braised vegetables we ate last night. Yummy! :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday Madness

Another game of this or that in this week's Monday Madness
1. diamonds or pearls? Freshwater pearls -- their odd shape looks cool
2. paperback or hardcover books? Hardcover when I can afford it
3. carpet or hardwood floors? Depends on which room -- I like both
4. dogs or cats? I like both too!
5. fluffy or firm pillow? Firm
6. fine point or medium point pens? Fine
7. clocks a little fast or on time? On time
8. mahjong or spider solitaire (or other)? Mahjong rocks! Never played spider solitaire
9. wall calendar or desk calendar? Wall calendar
10. 'Survivor' or 'The Amazing Race Neither -- never watched them and don't know about them

Our first pleasure outing

Yesterday the family had our first pleasure outing since moving here. We went to see our parents at their RV park where they are staying for the next month. They are about 50 miles or so from our home along the river deltas that feed into the valley. The place they are staying is Bethel Island and it was so quiet and peaceful. There is, of course, a big fishing and boating community there and lots of retirees. We walked along the river levee and saw a duck, pelicans, comorants and egrets. Aidan had a great time out and only slept on my chest during our walk. He was so excited to be in a different environment! It's a good thing he'll be a month older for the big Thanksgiving gathering with all the attention he'll be getting!

Anyway, it was a great day and I'll let you know when Golf gets the new photo album of our trip uploaded. :)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Various thoughts this morning

Man, when I was living in Thailand, I'd have something to blog about almost every day -- usually some frustration about how differently we westerners would have completed a task, some cultural event, or new quirky food discovery etc. Now my life is so different! It's very laid back and now that I'm spending most of my time at home, I almost feel like there's not much that's interesting to tell the world about. I also miss my time teaching. That was the best career I had -- the most fulfilling and meaningful and I'm so glad to have had it. If I started my teaching career younger, I'd have spent more years in Thailand teaching. I'm so glad to know that for the rest of my life, my husband, son and I will be always returning. It's so true that Thailand grows on you and once you've visited, you will always want to return.

I think I'm still in my transitional stage -- not completely used to being here yet and missing a little bit my old life. The main things I do not miss are the heat, humidity and terrible pollution. Here we get noise too, the goddamn leaf blowers. But other than that and the busses that drive by, we're living in a pretty darn quiet area.

Speaking of quiet areas, my parents are now with their RV in a smallish town about 50 miles from here and on Sunday, we are going to go visit them for the day. They are along a river delta and it's very peaceful with bountiful nature all around. We'll show Aidan some nearby farm animals that Mom and Dad said are there. Cool! We haven't taken a trip farther than Berkeley since moving here almost two months ago. It will be really good to get out and see things before the weather starts getting cold.

Before driving out to my parents' place, I plan to go to an estate sale early in the morning near here. One of these old mansions, hacienda style with all the beautiful Mexican tilework, posted an estate sale sign on the porch and I would love to go, if anything to check out the inside of that beautiful house.

That's it for now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Photos of the finished nursery

Golf put up the latest edition of the photo album -- it's usually updated weekly and I'll always post here when it is. There are pics of the whole nursery, finally FINALLY finished. I would love to get more artwork up on the walls, but have not seen anything I like for a price I like. Which brings me to the next topic -- creating my own art!

While living in Bangkok, I really got into the idea of making collages. Not just pictures made from cutout magazines, no, I want to use hand made papers of varying thicknesss, from tranparent to cardboard. I want different textures and may even add things like beads and small jewelry bits. I would focus first on creating works for children and once I get pretty good at it, I'll try selling it to make some money.

For fun, I would love to do landscapes, gardens, historical landmarks, and still lifes. Beautiful things! And if I become successful enough, I'd rent a studio space, for a two bedroom apartment simply does not have the room to have my own workspace. So between artist and postpartum doula, these are the two career switches I'm considering when Aidan gets a little older. :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The free piece of furniture I got

This is how it looked before I did anything to it, with the sign still on it and everything. Pretty dirty but no scratches or other damage.

And this is how it looks in Aidan's room, all cleaned up. In the drawer are his small clothing such as his hats, booties and socks. Also stored is his little finger puppets and rattle. The cupboard below holds his books. The middle shelf is for all his toys. Pretty nice looking for a free piece of furniture! Also notice the hospital momento of his birth on the top. :)

Do you want to see the rest of his nursery? I think Golf is getting a new photo album put together and all those pics will be in that one. Maybe tomorrow. I'll let ya know!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cool freebie

My sister and her DH came to visit Aidan and we went for a walk. On the sidewalk about two blocks from the apartment was an awesome dresser that with a FREE sign on it. We snagged it and took it back. It took both Jim and I to carry it, since Anna was carrying the baby. It just needs a good scrub and will go in Aidan's room because he barely has any furniture and needs a place for his books and toys. I will take a picture of it tomorrow and upload it to my blog. Amazing that this totally perfect piece of furniture that could fetch about $20 at a thrift store (or more at a consignment store) was free. Living in a good neighborhood has its perks. :)

Monday Madness

It's that time of week! Monday Madness

Which one?
1. Lemonade or Iced Tea? Iced Tea
2. DVD or VHS? DVD
3. Gold or Silver? Silver
4. Baseball or Tennis? Tennis, I guess -- not a fan of either.
5. Spring or Autumn? Autumn
6. Diet or Regular? Diet sodas, regular everything else.
7. Hearts or Stars? Stars
8. Snail Mail or Email? Email
9. Shop: Online or In-Store? Depends on the product or good deal involved.
10. Credit Card or Check? Check (debit card is the best)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Awkward reconnection with a friend

I was good friends with former colleague at the first school in Thailand where I worked. Since I had gotten a job at another school and moved away, I had only seen her at my wedding a few months later and then when I was seven months pregnant with Aidan. We'd occasionally talk on the phone, but she was busy teaching and tutoring every day. EVERY day. She had a whole family to take care of and didn't have a lot of time, so I never was offended that she didn't have time for visiting.

Well, after the baby came, I never called her. I was going through some baby blues and home sickness and it was too much for me to pick up a phone. Soon a month passed, then two passed. After that, I felt weird about calling her -- would she be angry with me? It was still a pain to take Aidan anywhere and all I wanted to do was hole up in my apartment.

Suddenly it was time to move back to the States and I still hadn't even called her. Now it's been about seven months since we even communicated and this morning I finally emailed her, apologizing about not getting in touch. One might argue that she also did not contact me, which is true. She didn't have a lot of time and she did have a lot of responsibilities. Anyway, I don't look at it as anybody's fault, and I sucked up my courage and wrote to her.

I hope she writes me back.

Do any of you use Netflix?

Couple days ago, Golf and I rented four DVDs from Blockbuster and the total came to almost $20!!! I'm now seriously considering subscribing to Netflix for basically $18 a month for unlimited viewage, just three DVDs at any one time. I think that's a great deal. I need to justify this subscription because while I do want to be frugal in our spending, this is our only source of entertainment besides having cable TV (that my mother is graciously paying for for a year). Before Aidan, Golf and I would regularily attend movies, partly because in Thailand it's about $3 - $4 per person, day or night. And with the cool air-con and big screen, it was something do pass the time when there wasn't much else to do. Nothing compares to the big screen with good sound, but not for American prices, especially if you factor in snacks.

I still want to see movies, but not for $10 a pop. Many movies these days really aren't that great and I remember quite a few I'd seen in Thailand where I was glad I wasn't paying American prices because I'd feel ripped off from the mediocrity. So is anybody out there feel like they are getting their money's worth with Netflix? Is it easy to get the new releases?

New Photos Uploaded

Golf has more new pictures up of our growing boy with the family. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A carpet accident

I had an accident the other day: nail polish! Need I say more? It was an old bottle but a pretty color and it was all sticky and gooey, so I put some nail polish remover in it to thin it out. However, I neglected to screw on the cap since I was just going to walk to the living room to paint my toes. Sure enough, in a beautiful arc that ended up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting, the dark mocha color made a lovely design on a carpet that did not belong to me. All I saw were dollar signs of our deposit disappearing as the damaged carpet would need replacing.

Well, my quick thinking sister hopped on the internet and found many solutions for taking nail polish out of carpet, most of which recommend Windex. So Golf and sis went to the store to purchase several different kinds of things that could work too such as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, more nail polish remover and of course the windex.

We scrubbed and scrubbed and it's about half way out. So I got more Windex soaking it now, to be scrubbed later this afternoon during baby's naptime. Wish me luck, cause I really don't want to have to pay for replacing carpet in this apartment. UGH.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Monday Madness

I haven't played Monday Madness in weeks, so here goes!

1. Name one productive thing you accomplished this past weekend.
Arranged a few living room pieces (we're newly moved into an apartment).

2. Name two things that you look forward to doing.
1)going to Tilden Park in Berkeley with Aidan and DH, since it's a big, quiet place to walk around in nature.
2) taking a road trip somewhere in the US when Aidan's a bit older

3. Name three things that gross you out.
1) chicken's feet in a Thai market soup that I was about to eat
2) hair not connected to the body; ie on the floor or countertops
3) cleaning up cat sh*t or puke off the floor

4. Name four things that you normally do on a daily basis.
1) Make and drink coffee
2) brush my teeth
3) breastfeed Aidan
4) wash dishes

5. Name five things that you own that you think you could get rid of and not miss.
Nothing at the moment because we've already decluttered from our recent move. It's something I take pride in!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Give a Mom a Muffin

I got this from an online friend's blog and thought it was worth sharing. Whew! :)

If you give a mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she'll find dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind hershe has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook("101 Things To Do With a Pound of Hamburger" ).
The cookbook is setting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The check book is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two-year-old's diaper.
While she is changing the diaper, the phone will ring.
Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.
She'll remember she wants to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are…
If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Been so busy lately

I've been neglecting posting the last few days just because I've been so tired by the end of the day that all I want to do is veg in front of the tube til bedtime. I'm sure all the moms out there can relate! Cookin', doing laundry, ironing, washing dishes, making the bed.... and Golf helps me with alot of this since he works from home, he makes his workday stretch longer but he takes more frequent breaks to help me with the baby. I like it that way.

OK, so the dilemma with Aidan is this: Since starting him on cereal once a day, he's been more fussy than he used to be and he's also farting more. He could be fussy because of teething too. We can see a white spot on his lower gums and Mom says it's definitely a tooth coming up! So I don't know if we should stop the cereal and wait, even though he seems real interested in eating and is so ready to start, or keep feeding him once a day and chalk his fussiness up to being the teething. Any opinions out there?

Mom and Dad bought us a high chair at this children's consignment store yesterday. Aidan just hates sitting in his bouncy chair on the floor where he can't be up at our level, so with the high chair he's right there with us and he's taken to his new piece of furniture quickly. We also got a great deal on this chair. Comperable chairs cost more than double the price and this chair was in great condition. Has both trays, reclines and includes two toys that attach to the small tray both in very good condition.

We've been so good about buying used stuff and there's so much good quality things out there -- many frugal folks out there know that used doesn't mean worn out and ugly. In today's consumer throwaway society, most stuff is still practically in next-to-new condition. Yee HAW! Better for me, who prefers to pay less than half.

Off to finish watching So You Think You Can Dance (I love to watch people dance -- remember that show Solid Gold back in the 80's?!?!) and then Nanny 911.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Got a sofa and a bookcase

The other day I went walking with Aidan to explore more of our new hometown and found a home furnishings consignment store and had to take a lookie loo. I found a nice big comfy sofa for $150 and some bookcases for $25 and $35 -- nice tall wooden ones. I went home to consult with Golf and the next day we came out together to see what he thought. We liked them and made the purchase, except one of the bookcases was sold. But we saw another for $65, and it had deeper shelving so we could double layer the smaller books and would do the work that two would do, so we went ahead with it. Delivery was an extra $35 and so worth it since getting furniture home was our biggest issue. I mean I love craigslist, but if you don't have a way of taking something home, it does no good.

The sofa has ended up being a bit large for the living room, but we can make it work. I'm glad we got it because with Aidan growing up into messy toddlerhood, the sofa will likely be bounced on and get many things spilled on it, so if it ends up ruined, then it's no big loss. Once he turns five, we might consider something nicer. I just remember reading a friend's blog about how her two children constantly threaten her nice couch and she has to keep vigilance over it as well as a slip cover!

So far most of the things in our apartment are either bought used or borrowed and/or given to us by my parents. And thank goodness too since we started out with basically nothing when we moved back to the States. It costs ALOT of money to furnish a home! So despite a pretty costly start-up these last two months, I think we can finally start budgeting for monthly expenses that occur regularly.

Aidan's eating solids now!

For weeks now Aidan's been showing an avid interest every time DH or I eat or drink anything, so yesterday I went to the natural foods store and bought him some organic baby rice cereal. He took to it like he'd been eating forever and he finished the whole thing! We don't even have a proper spoon or high chair for him yet. I plan to get him a rubber tipped spoon this week, but until then, we'll use the demi-tasse spoon we have and the Chinese sauce bowl for his cereal. What a good eater I have!

I can't believe I ate the whole thing!!!! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Updated photo album

Golf has updated our photo album: Our recent visit to Jack London Square in Oakland where we went to a bookstore and farmer's market, my sister Alise's visit and lastly, some pics of Golf's family and my friend A at the airport in Bangkok saying goodbye from Aug. 26th.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Some books

Yesterday we went to Jack London Square in Oakland to get some shopping done. Our first stop was at Bed Bath and Beyond to get a shower caddy. Then it was off to Barnes and Noble. I haven't been there in years! While I believe in getting 99% of my reading material from the library, I wanted a few books to keep for myself. One was a book about portion control called The Portion Teller. The #1 reason for weight problems is not what you eat but how much. This is so true, and it goes over in detail what real portion sizes should be, instead of these collosal servings that are offered in grocery stores and restaurants. So my weight loss strategy is to eat really good quality food and eat real, smartsize portions of it.

The other book I got wasn't for me, but for Aidan. When I grew up, my mother read us all the Mother Goose nursery rhymes, so I bought a book for my son, The Original Mother Goose. What prompted me to remember was a radio show I was listening to very early on Sunday morning and the guest was discussing the origins of these much beloved rhymes. Like Ring Around the Rosy is all about the bubonic plague! I found an internet site that also discusses the history of these rhymes and it's called Lost lyrics, history and origins of old nursery rhymes .

We ended our visit with shopping at the farmer's market there. It was huge and Golf's first time at a farmer's market. Very cool. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Early morning thoughts about child behavior

Somebody small woke me up at 4:30 this morning, and after nursing, he was awake and alert. It was 5 AM. OK, so up I get and I put the coffee on -- I may as well stay up. He just now went to sleep and it's now 6:30 and since I've had some caffeine, I can't go back to sleep, so I may as well blog! I can take a nap later on this afternoon, if he lets me. :)

The last few weeks I've been getting caught up on American TV. My parents have decided to pay for our cable TV, so I've been watching it (more than I should, really!) and I discovered the much publicized show called "Supernanny" in which a British Mary Poppins-like nanny comes to households whose children are out-of-control naughty. These kids are horrendous acting, but the underlying theme I see this nanny employ to these families is to get on a daily routine, do activities with the kids, be firm and follow through with discipline and set high expectations.

I don't think I was ever horrible as a child, neither were my sisters, and my mother will be a great source of wisdom for raising Aidan to be a good boy, or at least one who is in control and respectful. Bottom line is that parents must provide structure and routine for the little ones and follow up on discipline. I'm hooked on Supernanny so I can know how deal later on as Aidan gets bigger.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Last night in the wee morning hours Golf and I were jolted awake when our entire apartment jerked and it made a loud noise, like someone dropped an entire sofa in the living room. I had a feeling it was an earthquake and sure enough, this morning I heard on the news that it was. It was a 3.2, near Oakland, which is about two miles from where we live.

My heart was racing hard and when I finally fell asleep again, I dreamed of THE BIG ONE and how our apartment complex would collapse since we're on the third floor and would I get to my baby on time. Or what would happen if Golf were working in Berkeley when the big one hit. How would he call me? (We have no cell phone and who's to say that would work anyway?) How would he make his way home if the streets and freeways and the tunnel to Alameda were ruined? No communication and no way home, I wouldn't know if he were dead or alive. Hmmm... much like what happened with many of the hurricane victims who could not find their loved ones, sometimes their own children. I could not imagine....

So it got me to thinking about preparing an earthquake kit. Even just a little something for the apartment and the car. You can never know and it will surely happen here sooner or later.

Friday, September 23, 2005

My sister's visit

My middle sister (I'm the eldest of three girls) came over all the way from Santa Barbara since Tuesday and she had to leave on Thursday morning. It was SOOO lovely to see her again. The last time I saw her was April of last year and for just as many days when I was visiting from Thailand. It was so cool because she had lost like 90 pounds and looked fantastic! A few days of visit in just as many years is a shock when you see how much someone you know so well and love so much has changed. It's been subtly like that with all my friends and family who I haven't seen in so long. We're all aging and it's an interesting process to witness, from our physical bodies to our outlook on life. Kinda neat.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

One Year Ago Today I got

My big fat positive pregnancy test! Aidan's officially just over a year old now. Hooray!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Updated photo album

Golf updated our photo album. Got some fatty pictures of me, but it inspires me to lose the weight! Included are some area shots of the downtown part of the neighborhood that was on our walk today. We're holding off on the stroller for a little while cause Aidan gets upset. I think he's still a little bit too small for it and still prefers to be close to mommy, so we do the snuggly. Hey, it's an extra 15 pounds of weight, good for buring extra calories!

Home made yogurt & other culinary bits

Yesterday I made my first ever home made yogurt with my new yogurt machine. It took about seven hours to make, and this afternoon for a snack I had my first jar. It was OK -- a little tart to my liking, but the texture was good. Unfortunately, when I boiled the milk, it had boiled over and even scalded, which does affect the taste, so next time I'll be extra careful. I imagine that something like making yogurt takes practice to become good.

Today I'm also making my first beef stock with some left over rib bones I have. I'll have it on a nice slow simmer for five hours to give me some really tasty brown stock for recipes in the future. I love this new cooking adventure!

I'm also excited to see my sister who lives in Santa Barbara. She's coming tomorrow. Before she arrives, Golf agreed to come to the farmer's market with me and I would also like to bake some fresh coffeehouse style scones with dried organic cherries. I hope she likes them! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I got a free bike!

Golf, Aidan and I were just returning from our walk to the shopping center and noticed that our other (quiet) neighbors had their own bikes out getting ready for a ride but one of their bikes had a sign on it that said FREE. And it was a perfectly good, nice looking bike. It needs a new tire and likely a tune up, but hey it's the best deal there is! So today I'm going to go buy a bike lock. It will now be SOOO convenient to run to the store, library or farmer's market without having to ever take the car and it will take a fraction of the time as walking. What great luck that the universe has provided for us! We haven't driven the car in about two days now. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The fan drowns it out..

Our neighbors were noisy again. I'm just going to have to resign myself to the fact that I'm not going to be able to fall asleep until 10:30 every night, even though I'm ready for bed by about 9:30. I feel thankful that the first few months with Aidan, I went to bed with him at 8:30 and we had concrete walls that kept out neighborly noise and could actually sleep. Can't hang anything on the walls, though. So I tried out the fan we have to create a white noise and it worked out well enough. Kept out the smaller noise, but the big bumps and bangs are just going to have to be tolerated . I despise the fool who designed this apartment comlex. Who puts a kitchen right next to the master bedroom for chrissake?!? I wish I could wear earplugs but we have to be able to hear the baby when or if he wakes during the night. I was nearly ready to move our bedroom into the living room and put our livingroom into the bedroom I was that irritated and upset, but that's no way to live.

At any rate, today was Aidan's doctor's appointment and all went well. He's officially 15 pounds and well within the healthy range. The pediatrician spent a good portion of time with us asking and answering questions and examined the baby well. Poor thing got three shots and now he's taking a nice long nap. Luckily we won't have to return until he's six months old. Hard to believe he's already nearly four months!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Explored the farmers' market

OK, so I can't own a house, but I do get to live in a cool metropolitan area that is very vibrant. And boy do we have a variety of farmers' markets! The local one here is only a mile and a half from my home, so I walked there while Golf took care of the baby. It's so fantastic! Next time I'm having them come with me. I bought beets, okra, white, yellow and purple onions, some organic heirloom tomatoes, basil, peaches, nectarines and plums. Now I've got to go find a good recipe for beets that I can make besides borcht, although I LOOVE borcht!

The joys of apartment living

Golf and I woke up at 4:45 this morning, not because of the baby, but because of our neighbors. We have extremely thin walls, and they keep the oddest hours. Their kitchen and bathroom are right next to the master bedroom and we hear EVERYTHING. They clatter plates, stomp around on the floor, beep the microwave buttons, slam cupboard doors and talk loudly. No consideration whatsoever. Golf was PO'd to the extreme and even knocked on our wall. Lot of good that'll do, these people are clueless. He plans to talk to the apartment manager today, as a few weeks is all we can handle of this. Then the baby woke up and after nursing decided it was time to stay awake, so I got up with him at 6 AM and now the coffee's just about ready. Letting Golf sleep some more. Those of you living in houses, count your blessings.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dontcha love automated menus!

Yesterday I could have pulled my hair out. I'm filling out an application for Healthy Families, a low cost health insurance program for children. I needed to call to ask about income verification, since our situation is different with all my earnings being done abroad and dh is self employed. I call and get the dreaded automated menu. Press one for this option, press two for that option. I rarely push those options -- I wanna speak to a PERSON. It drives me crazy.

Then I am put on hold because "all the representatives are busy helping others" and it ended up that I HAD to leave a voice mail message. I hate doing that. I want to speak with a person TODAY and I don't mind waiting to do it. This system gave me no choice and now I have to wait up to two days for assistance getting this done. It sucks.

I also tried calling this local health care clinic to see if they did vaccinations for babies, since Aidan's four month well baby appointment is coming up and he needs his next round of vaccinations. Well this place, nobody answered the phone and the voicemail was already full so I couldn't even leave a message! I tried about four times to call and got the same thing. This clinic's address was just over a mile from home, so I took Aidan for a walk thinking if nobody is answering their phone, perhaps I could talk to somebody in person. Aidan was in a grumpy mood and cried and screamed the whole way down. It sucked. I got there to an empty building!! They'd moved! I asked the dry cleaning lady next door what happened and she said they moved but didn't leave a sign saying where their new location was. What a waste of time. But at least I got some exercise despite Aidan's crying.

I decided to just make an appointment with a pediatrician that takes our insurance (with a HIGH deductible, so his well baby appt is out of pocket anyway) and got him in for this Thursday. It will be AT LEAST a few hundred bucks so I hope that Healthy Families calls me back.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Cooking and meal planning

Before moving here I would daydream endlessly about all the lovely meals I would cook and how I would experiment in the kitchen.

I still plan to do that, but once we are more settled and I get more of my kitchen gear. In the meantime, I never realized how difficult it is to do meal planning! Cooking is the easy part -- it's deciding what to eat and then going and acquiring the ingredients that's the more difficult part. And I plan two meals a day, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is nonexistant for Golf and for me it's always fruit and yogurt, a no brainer.

But I end up going to the grocery store every day to get the things I need to make something that day and I neglect what I intend to prepare the next day, so another trip is in order. Any suggestions from any at home chefs out there? Maybe it's something that will work itsself out over time. I hope so because the daily trips aren't economical, even if I walk because I end up buying more than I need sometimes.

We think he's teething....

Aidan's been drooling for weeks now and the last few days he's been terribly fussy and grumpy during the day. Yesterday I took him for a walk in his new awesome stroller and while the day before he was angelic, he cried and SCREAMED the whole way. I thought at first that continuing walking with him might soothe him and make him feel better, but 15 minutes later, it was obvious it wasn't working so we headed home. One lady even emerged from behind her hedges she was trimming thinking she heard a distressed cat! LOL! No, it's just a baby!

We tried swaddling him last night -- something we have not done since moving. We did this because the night before he was waking up every three hours, while in Bangkok he slept through the night. Sure enough, last night he only woke up once. At least the swaddle keeps him feeling secure and in a familiar comfort.

So with all the night wakings, drooling and fussiness, my mother suggested that he might be teething. He will be four months old in a few weeks, so it's not out of the question. I've been offering him teething beads and my finger to knaw on, so I hope that will help my poor baby. He's even been getting real tears when he cries and it breaks my heart to see that. :(

Friday, September 09, 2005

Back on!

Today's the day we're supposed to get our own internet -- I'm still piggybacking for now. Yesterday I couldn't even go online because the only computer adapted for wireless is my DH's laptop, which he was using all day long for his job.

Aidan and I went exploring yesterday. Since Thailand has no libraries, I was really hankering to get a library card and get some books that have been on my Amazon Wish List. I walked out of there with FOUR books! Hooray, I just love to read and the library is easy walking distance. Just strapped Aidan in the Snuggli, a backpack with a few diapers and room for books on my back and off we go!

Alameda has some BEAUTIFUL old victorian houses. The homeowners here realize their value and have kept them up nicely. Last evening while dinner was cooking, I took Aidan out in his new stroller and went exploring around the neighborhood. He was so quiet and alert, just looking around. We accidently stumbled upon the rich neighborhood -- gorgeous mansions with immaculate flower gardens and lawns. Wow. I love looking and imagining. Today we'll see what else is out there.

I think my weight should come off fairly quickly now. I'm quite active and love exploring! My pants are already grtting looser.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Checking out the neighborhood

I went on a little walk yesterday to check out more of our new neighborhood. We're very close to the library, which I would like to go to today once my parents arrive. We are also about a 15 minute walk to the historical downtown area on Park Street and there are all sorts of cute shops and restaurants. I can see Golf and I taking the baby for a walk and stopping off for a coffee or a burrito or something. I think there may be a natural foods store near there too, which would be great! I don't want to have to drive all the way to Berkeley to get to a natural foods store. I also need to find out about the farmer's market. There's supposed to be one here in Alameda. If worse comes to worse we can go to the one in Jack London Square in Oakland, which isn't far.

I'm still getting the hang of meal planning. Cooking is easy -- it's the planning of what to fix that's difficult! I'm finding I have to go to the store every day and that can't be good. Well, I've never cooked for a family before and neither Golf nor I have cooked in over a year, since we didn't have a real kitchen in Thailand. Like all new adjustments, it will just take time.

And adjusting is what I'm going through right now. It sometimes feels overwhelming because I am living a completely new life. This is the first time I'm not working outside the home and I'm also living in a new apartment in a new city. It's all positive, but sometimes I need to take a few deep breaths and know that it will start to become familiar soon, just give it a little time. Believe me, I am happy!